Matrimony

Steps to Getting Married in the Catholic Church

 

Get and Stay Married in the Catholic Church!

Your engagement is cause for great celebration within your family and your Catholic Church family rejoices with you too! Preparing for marriage is truly a thought provoking, challenging and life-giving experience. It is also a process that if done right, takes some time. Engaged couples, often because of their sincere excitement seem to want to rush through this very important step and get to the altar post haste. We invite you to take this opportunity to fall deeper in love with your fiancé, but also fall in love with marriage!

As fellow Christians and Catholics, we want to share with you the beauty of Catholic marriage and also help with the practical matters that will help build your relationship. While your focus at this moment may be your wedding day, ours is not just your special day but the countless ones that will follow.  We want the best for you! A happy life-long marriage!  It is possible, with God's help to have a long successful marriage, and it all starts here.

This section is about the marriage preparation process steps and some common mistakes couples make on their way to their wedding. The months leading up to your marriage will run much more smoothly if you keep the following information in mind. These are the typical steps, though in some churches, the steps are in a slightly different order. Please note the timeline presented here represents meeting with someone in your parish once a month, until your Sacramental/Practical Component. Depending on the volume of couples being ministered to at any given time, the parish may have a more compressed schedule – 8-9 months- if they can see their couples more than once a month and are taking care of various aspects at the same time.

About a year in advance

Do this first!! Make an appointment with a priest, deacon or lay marriage minister at your parish church to discuss your wish to wed.

Please do not book or place deposits on your reception hall or wedding photographer or florist or caterer (etc.) until after you have confirmed your church reservation. This is very important! Couples sometimes think of the Church last and are heartbroken to find the most important aspect of their wedding- the Church - is not available! Avoid problems by contacting your parish church FIRST.

Seeking Catholic marriage means you are prepared to begin your married life with Jesus at the center. This implies a desire for an ongoing practice of your faith for which you need a faith community. Your parent's or grandparent's registration at a parish is wonderful, but as adults, we are called to take ownership of our faith and practice this includes registering at a parish church on our own accord. If you are not registered anywhere, please consider doing so. If you wish to have your ceremony in your parents' church or your grandparents' church this can be arranged, but it is important as an adult Catholic to belong to a parish and do your preparation in your own parish.

Common mistakes

When couples become engaged there is always a strong temptation to move in together, please don't do this. Living separately and chastely demonstrates an engaged couple has a well developed Christian understanding of sexual intimacy and its place within the context of marriage. As Catholics, we believe sex outside of marriage is gravely sinful, and it is, in no way- a good way to start a lifelong Christian marriage. Social scientists have also studied cohabitation (living together without marriage) extensively and have found that living together before marriage puts couples at higher risk for divorce. It is possible to reclaim chastity in your relationship and establish the foundation for a good and holy marriage!

The other temptation couples are faced with is the quickie civil marriage ceremony, please don't do this. Catholics should be aware that marriage ceremonies "outside" the Church, including civil marriage ceremonies, are not valid for Catholics. While the civil law plays an important role in a Catholic marriage ceremony, civil law is not all there is for  Catholics. Catholics also have to observe Divine and Church Law. While an effort is made with a civil marriage to "formalize" a relationship, this formality is a  reality only in the civil realm, not in the spiritual realm. It is gravely sinful for Catholics to have sexual relations outside the valid marital bond in a Catholic marriage. Catholics who are married civilly cannot receive the  Sacraments, including Communion, until they enter into a Catholic marriage. If you are already civilly married, please speak with your pastor, deacon, or lay marriage minister about marriage preparation for couples who are civilly married.  This is commonly known as "Convalidation" but it is the same as getting married in the Catholic Church. For more information about getting married in the Catholic Church after a civil or other ceremony click here.

About one year before the wedding

Month 1

Your first meeting. Your first meeting will be with a priest, deacon, or designated lay marriage preparation minister. At this meeting, clergy want to get to know you. Often clergy introduce a bit of the Theology of Marriage at this meeting and may ask why you want to marry in the Catholic Church. Some churches conduct the PRENUPTIAL QUESTIONNAIRE or INTERVIEW at this time, though sometimes, the questionnaire is completed at a second meeting or after a preliminary group presentation on Catholic Marriage.

Month 2

Your second meeting. Typically, your Prenuptial Questionnaire/ Interview (PNI) will be done at this time. The prenup questionnaire or interview is a straightforward set of questions that helps the church establish your freedom to marry, your intent, and faith readiness, among other things. If your prenuptial interview was done at the first meeting, this second meeting could be used for step 4. [Catholics hold marriage as a sacred and permanent covenant (unbreakable bond) therefore if one or both of you have been married before, the Church has to investigate to determine if you were in a union considered valid by Church standards. The investigation and process is commonly known as an ANNULMENT. A civil divorce is necessary but not sufficient for a person to be considered free to marry in the Catholic Church. All previous marriages must be looked at, including the previous marriages of non-Catholics attempting marriage with Catholics. For more information on annulments, please see FAQ in the Metropolitan Tribunal web page.

Nine months before the wedding

Month 3

Your third meeting. Administration of a pre-marital inventory such as FOCCUS,  PREPARE\ENRICH, or PMI comes next. The purpose of a premarital inventory is to "take stock" of the strengths and weaknesses in your relationship. Inventories are not "tests" you pass or fail. Inventories are not something you can prepare or study for. An inventory is simply a "snapshot" of your relationship at the moment you take it. The value of a premarital inventory is not just in taking it, but in the conversations you will enter into after you take it and during the facilitated or review sessions that follow it. FOCCUS, P\E and PMI are available now on-line. If you take your inventory on-line this third meeting will most likely be your first follow-up session to begin reviewing your results. Parishes sometimes administer the premarital inventory in a group setting; however, the results will be reviewed in private.

While inventories are not something you can "fail" it is possible to render it "void" or useless for marriage preparation. Couples who talk to each other and consult each other over items on the inventory while taking it invalidate and render the results useless. For this reason, couples are asked not to speak to each other about the inventory until both have finished it. After you both complete the inventory, you are encouraged to start talking about it!

Month 4-5

Your fourth-sixth meetings- Premarital inventory results review. It takes at least three 60-90 minute sessions to review the results of a pre-marital inventory. The goal of the facilitated sessions is to help you and your fiancé talk about things that are strengths in your relationship and also areas where you need to do some work as a couple. While there may be some instruction during the review phase, the primary purpose of the inventory is to help you and your fiancé have facilitated conversations over the results of your inventory.

Month 6-7

Sacramental preparation- Theology of Marriage and Practical component. This part is handled differently in different parishes. Here are some possible options you might see at your parish church. The Theology of Marriage is usually addressed by a member of the clergy or lay pastoral marriage minister. Some parishes do a combination of things mentioned below.

A. Your parish might assign you to a Sponsor Couple who will walk with you through this part of the prep using a program such as For Better and Forever by Fr. Rob Ruhnke. These are 5 + weekly sessions. This is the most flexible option because it allows you to do your marriage preparation around your own schedule (and that of the sponsor couple.) Meetings are held in the sponsor couple's home.

B. Your parish may have a Series of Classes they offer or a Parish Based Retreat for engaged couples. 

C. After receiving the primary preparation at your parish you and your fiancé may be referred to one or more archdiocesan programs or retreats such as:
     a. Engaged Encounter
     b. New Life ( If either you or your fiancé have been married before. 
     c. God's Plan for a Joy-Filled  Marriage Seminar 

Some of these programs have been known to fill up, up to four months in advance, so please register for them as soon as you can.

Six months before the wedding

Months  6-9

Part of a well-rounded understanding of Christian marriage includes instruction in a method of Natural Family Planning. Natural Family Planning helps couples understand the great gift of fertility and children. NFP helps couples manage their fertility and family size in ways that respects how God created men and women. As Catholics, we believe the use of artificial contraception is gravely sinful on a number of fronts. One reason is that contraception is a rejection of God's primordial gift and injunction to married couples to be fruitful. A couple's fertility is a great good which requires specialized knowledge to manage faithfully and morally. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has teachers in at least four well-known methods of NFP. These methods include Couple to Couple LeagueStandard-Sympto-Thermal, Billings, and Creighton Model Fertility Care.

A number of Catholic medical professionals and an increasing number of secular ones are speaking out about the harmful effects of the hormones in the "pill" in otherwise healthy women. Doctors have been talking about the safety issues of hormonal contraceptives since the late 1950's and early 1960's when the first pill- Enovid was released to the market for contraceptive use. In 2002, the National Institutes of Health placed hormonal steroids used in birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy (for menopause) on its list of known carcinogens.

Two months before the wedding
-Final preparations-

Month 11 

Wedding liturgy planning meeting. As your wedding day approaches, you will meet with either the person you have been working with during your marriage prep to this point or another person, possibly the parish wedding or liturgy coordinator to talk about your wedding liturgy. Normally, two Catholics getting married will have the Marriage Rite as part of a Nuptial Mass. Mixed religion couples often opt not have a mass because of the non-Catholics inability to receive Holy Communion. In these cases, a deacon may officiate the Rite of Marriage without a mass. In either case, you will be asked to prayerfully consider the scriptures you would like to be read during your ceremony. Other finer points will be discussed at this meeting such as music selection, readers, and Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion if you are having a mass. If this hasn't been done already, the wedding coordinator will give you the guidelines for wedding photography, videography, and for the florist, among other things. The wedding liturgy planning meeting is a good time to make an appointment with a priest to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation if you are Catholic. Entering marriage is a human and a divine (sacred) act. Because of its sacredness a couple must do everything in their power to be in a state of grace (free of grave sin) before approaching the altar to exchange consent and vows and confer upon each other the Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage between two baptized Christians is considered a Sacrament and should be approached with the right disposition.

One week - one day before the wedding

Month 12

The rehearsal. The rehearsal is usually the evening before the wedding, however, if your parish has many weddings, it might be another day the week before the wedding. Usually, at the wedding rehearsal, the presiding clergy or wedding coordinator does a walk through of everything that will happen at the wedding. Final paperwork, such as the civil marriage license must be presented to your clergy or wedding coordinator at the wedding rehearsal. The rehearsal is a good time to make an appointment with a priest to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation if you are Catholic if you have not done so already.

Entering marriage is a human and a divine (sacred) act. Because of its sacredness, a couple must do everything in their power to be in a state of grace (free of grave sin) before approaching the altar to exchange consent and vows and confer upon each other the Sacrament of Marriage. Marriage between two baptized Christians is considered a Sacrament and should be approached with the right disposition.

Your wedding day! You have arrived! Today something brand new will be created that never existed before, the marriage bond between you and your spouse. This new reality is of utmost importance to the Church and society at large. Your marriage is the foundation of the Church and society. For that reason, your marriage is not merely a private affair, your marriage has incredible public significance! From this day forward and for the rest of your life, you will be your partner's husband or wife; no longer just a girl or boyfriend, no longer just an "engaged" couple. There is a new reality in town and that is you two, married! The bond you form is both human and divine. The bond you formed with each other and with Jesus will sustain you and your new family as it grows with children and as it is tested through trials.

As a new human and divine reality, your marriage bond, your relationship must be nurtured on both fronts. Neither the human needs of your relationship nor the spiritual ones can be neglected. As a new living reality, your marriage must be "fed" or it will atrophy.

After care

Post wedding meetings. If you worked with a Sponsor Couple during your marriage preparation, they are asked to keep in contact with you. Initially, there are recommended meetings at 3 months, at 6 months and at the one year mark. Some sponsors and newly weds stay in contact for years! At that point, the couple that served as your sponsor in marriage preparation will move into a mentoring role. Please make sure you let your Sponsor/Mentor Couple and your parish know if you move out of the area. Many parishes are including in their plans, pastoral care of marriage as an important priority. Many parishes who currently do not have a follow-up program for newlyweds are investigating ways to stay connected with you. Don't be surprised if you get a phone call or e-mail from your priest, deacon or lay minister. This communication is only possible if you keep a current phone number, address, and e-mail address on file at your church. To care for the "human" aspect of your union, you will have to be pro-active and seek out books, classes, events, and other opportunities that help you grow in your relationship skills. What you learned in marriage preparation is just the beginning of a lifetime of learning about those things that will keep your relationship strong. On the divine - or spiritual side, developing your prayer life and spirituality as a couple is crucial. You know the old saying… "the family that prays together stays together?" That starts with you as a married couple! 

Plug-in to adult faith formation classes at your parish to continue growing in your faith. As a couple, you have the primary and awesome responsibility to pass on your Christian and Catholic faith and value system to your children. The questions children inevitably ask are a lot easier to navigate when you have yourselves traveled those questioning seas and found some answers. If there is nothing available for adults in your parish talk to the pastor and ask for ideas regarding home study. There are many good and trustworthy resources available to help adults grow in knowledge of their faith.  Many parishes now subscribe to the program FORMED, a "buffet" style faith formation platform where you pick what you want to learn about.

If you are both Christian it goes with out saying your couple spirituality should be Christ-centered. As Catholics, we have profound encounters with Jesus in the celebration of the Eucharist so mass attendance is necessary for the nurturing of your marriage. There, Jesus himself feeds us, restores us, and makes the forgiveness we are called to in marriage possible. Stay connected to your parish and the archdiocesan Family Life Office for opportunities for retreats or special events for married couples. Don't' wait until you are having marital trouble to seek out enrichment opportunities for your marriage. It is recommended you make a Marriage Encounter Weekend sometime before your 5th anniversary. You can also do an annual Catholic Couple Checkup- an on-line relationship assessment once a year.

Marriage crisis toward restoration plan. It may be hard right now to imagine your marriage hitting the rocks, but at one point or another, every marriage faces some sort of crisis. It is important to create a plan, with the help of your mentors, clergy or lay marriage minister, as to what you will do when this happens. The plan should be thought out carefully and written out. It should include step by step instructions for yourself as to how you will proceed. You will want to have in your plan a statement of your belief in the permanence of marriage, and why you chose your spouse as your life-mate. Your plan should also include the names of your sponsors or marriage mentors, and/or clergy and their phone numbers. You will also want the names of some trusted Catholic or Christian Counselors who will work with you to keep your marriage together. Even if the clergy or counselor you have identified moves and changes their phone number over the years, it is usually easy to locate them using diocesan directories and on-line search engines. The idea here is to have a plan in place for when things head south.

After you complete your plan, formalize it by signing it and have your priest/deacon or lay marriage minister sign it with you as their pledge to be a resource for you if you begin to have difficulties. Add a copy of your wedding picture, or your wedding invitation inside an envelope and seal it. Put this somewhere where you won't forget about it, like your wedding album. Open it at the first sign of trouble. 


For learn more about the Sacrament of Matrimony, please check: Catechism of Catholic Church 

 

 

 

The Sacrament of Matrimony

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1601

We are excited for your journey towards marriage!  It is a beautiful Sacrament that shows the world the relationship between Christ and his Church.  Since it is an important commitment, marriage in the Catholic Church requires a minimum of six months formal preparation prior to the wedding.   

Couples interested in beginning the preparation for their Sacrament of Marriage are invited to attend the Theology of Marriage & Marriage Guideline Review.  It is the first of the sessions andmust be taken before any others. The focus of this class is the theology of marriage and to review the wedding requirements & expectations at Resurrection Catholic Church.  
   
For more information and/or to register for the class, contact:  
Parish Office: 713-675-5333


El Sacramento de Matrimonio

La alianza matrimonial, por la que el varón y la mujer constituyen entre sí un consorcio de toda la vida, ordenado por su misma índole natural al bien de los cónyuges y a la generación y educación de la prole, fue elevada por Cristo Nuestro Señor a la dignidad de sacramento entre bautizados.
Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica 1601

Estamos emocionados por su jornada hacia el matrimonio!  Es un Sacramento tan hermoso que muestra al mundo el amor entre Cristo y su Iglesia.  A causa de ser un compromiso importante, el Matrimonio en la Iglesia Católica requiere un mínimo de seis meses de preparación formal antes de la boda. 

Las parejas interesadas en el inicio de la preparación para su Sacramento del Matrimonio están invitados a tomar la Teologia del Matrimonio y Revision de la Guia para el Matrimonio. Es la primera de las sesiones y debe tomarse antes que a otros. El enfoque de esta clase es la teología del matrimonio y para revisar los requisitos de la boda y las expectativas en Iglesia Católica Resurrección.
 
Para más información y/o inscribirse para la sesion, contactar:  
Oficina de la Parroquia: 713-675-5333

Marriage

God created man and woman out of love and commanded them to imitate his love in their relations with each other. Man and woman were created for each other…Woman and man are equal in human dignity, and in marriage both are united in an unbreakable bond. (United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, Ch. 21, p. 279)